Thursday 25 May 2023

Civic Virtue

No Suella Braverman to answer the Urgent Question on immigration. No Braverman on the airwaves. What is the point of her? What is she for? How much longer can she last?

As for 10 million people born abroad, that meant Cliff Richard until he decamped to the Republic of Barbados. It means Boris Johnson. It means Daniel Hannan. It means Peter Hitchens. It means me.

Britain has a long, recent, and arguably ongoing imperial history. It was in the EU for two generations. It is mercantile. De Gaulle was right to call us "maritime", but not to call us "insular". Citizens of countries that were in the French Empire when he said that now have the vote in Britain as citizens of the Commonwealth.

Almost no other country allows any category of non-citizen to vote. In Britain, an Irish or Commonwealth citizen could in principle become Prime Minister. In the United States, you cannot become President unless you were born there.

That said, I should be surprised if anyone still were sitting in the House of Commons for an English, Scottish or Welsh seat without being a British citizen, or for a Northern Irish seat without being British or Irish. That may now be an open goal for rivals to be First Past the Post.

So require parliamentary candidates to be British citizens in Great Britain, or British or Irish citizens in Northern Ireland. But let everyone vote. We already enfranchise the Commonwealth citizens of Rwanda, Mozambique, Gabon and Togo, none of which was ever in the British Empire. Why let a Gabonese or a Togolese vote, but not an American or an Israeli?

Imagine suggesting in the United States or in Israel that any non-citizen should have the vote. National Conservatives have picked the wrong laboratory here in the land of Akshata Murty's husband. But why should she be enfranchised here when, presumably, Lucia Guo is not, and certainly was not when she first lived here?

Extending suffrage to citizens of countries with which we had a connection is so British that it is positively Burkean, like the National Health Service. And Britain is now globally noted for its  superdiversity, a so far unique combination of having people from every inhabited territory on earth, of having some level of ethnic diversity down to every neighbourhood and village, and of having a huge and exponentially increasing mixed-race population in the society that accepted mixed-race people and couples more than anywhere else.

None of this is about reversing Brexit, which is happening all on its own. The installation of a Government that revered the memory of Margaret Thatcher, rather than that of Tony Benn, is having its inevitable and intentional effect. Theresa May and Liz Truss campaigned for Remain. Johnson famously wrote an article on each side. If you believe that Rishi Sunak voted Leave, then you will believe absolutely anything, even that Benn's Vicar on Earth voted Remain. Far from Brexit's lasting until those of us in our forties were dead, it is not even going to last until we had retired. Nowhere near, in fact.

But when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Keir Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.


  1. Britain was indeed imperial but it never had significant immigration of foreigners (the Irish were moving within a state) and it had a stable monocultural population with thousands of years of roots here-until modern leftwing governments opened our borders starting with Windrush.

    The leftwing lie that we are a "nation of immigrants" was exposed by David Goodhart in The British Dream: "From 1066 until 1950 immigration to Britain was almost non-existent – about 50,000 Huguenots in the entire 16th and 17th centuries, about 200,000 Jews in two waves, and perhaps 1 million or more Irish over the course of 200 years, during which time they were internal migrants within one state. Yet since 2004 nearly 500,000 non-British people have arrived in Britain each year (with about 200,000 non-British people leaving) – that means more people arrive on these shores as immigrants in a single year than in the entire period 1066 to 1950 (excluding the Irish and wartime flows).’ (p.xxviii)""

    1. And ever-more people love it. As long as it is legal, including in terms of not undercutting the hard-won rights of workers. In any case, the numbers really are not huge. Oh, and that was not how the Irish were viewed at the time, including by themselves. Ed West knows that, just as David Goodhart knows about other things.

  2. And ever-more people love it

    That wasn't your point-you were suggesting it has always been the norm when historically it has not. Those experiencing the housing price crisis and shortage driven
    by mass immigration (60% of renters in London are migrants and we need 300,000 homes a year just to house immigrants alone) do not "love it." The working-class whose wages, neighbourhoods and waiting lists are worst affected by mass immigration most certainly do not "love it."

    Those who "love it" are the welfare-dependent workshy class who depend on foreigners to do the jobs they won't do and the middle-class liberals who want cheap foreign servants-in addition to the leftwing politicians who hate our country and its history and want to replace the British electorate with a new one.

    1. You are being written by a malfunctioning AI program now. Britain has the most positive attitude to immigration of any developed country, and probably the most of it, although it is still not a lot of people in a country this populous. As far as most Britons are concerned, including practically everyone below what is now a very high age, this is "our country".

      And if it made Britain more Christian, as it slowly but surely will and is, then all to the good. The country that you seem to have in mind would be significantly more godless than China is, or than the Soviet Union ever was.